Chopsticks, called Hashi in Japanese, are the only eating utensils for the Japanese dishes, while spoons are also used in China or Korea. We call a pair of chopsticks “Ichizen“, but from the Yayoi period (dated 300 BC to 300 AD) through the beginning of Nara era (710 – 794), Ori-bashi was used, which was made of a bamboo stick bent in the middle like a tweezers. It is said that the name of Hashi came from the shape of the Ori-bashi, which looked like a bird’s bill (called Kuchi-bashi).
In a long history of the Hashi, the mster piece is Rikyu-bashi. As the name indicates, it was invented by Sen-No-Rikyu, who is considered as the most profound influence on Wabi-cha (Japanese way of tea) in the history. It is best to make the Rikyu-bashi with red cedar. It is said that Rikyu ordered the timber of red cedar from a place and made the chopsticks for his guest. The chopsticks with purity of plain wood and smell of cedar was a treat in itself for a guest. It was the best treat for someone to be served with the chopsticks shaved with care by the master. It is assumed that the Rikyu-bashi was originally thicker and longer. Like most of Japanese tableware, the Rikyu-bashi became smaller as time went by. However, irrespective of their size, the Rikyu-bashi are still grateful. They are served as first-class restaurants or at Kaiseki (traditional multi-curse Japanese dinner) of the tea ceremony.